There’s one bad thing about fall, and that’s having to abandon sandals in favor of closed-toe shoes. But there are plenty of great things about fall, from autumn fruits to technicolor leaves to cider mills with giant apple-pressing wheels. And making cobblers (and slumps and grunts) from apples and pears is definitely one of the season’s highlights. Finding an entire bag of organic pears for $2.49 at my favorite produce store instantly inspired me to make my own version of a simple fall dessert. (And I still had six pears left in the bag! I included them in cheese plates, pureed them into ice cream, and enjoyed them all on their own as dessert.)
Since I wanted my pear creation to serve as breakfast as well as dessert, I included buckwheat flour and rolled oats in my topping. (Buckwheat has a lower glycemic/sugar load than most other flours.) And I opted for date sugar as the main sweetener, too, because its caramel aspect pairs nicely with pears and because it’s less sugary than most sweeteners. Seeing as I already had a bagful of perfectly ripe pears, I didn’t need much more sweet stuff. The hint of mesquite in the topping also added a hint of sweetness along with a suggestion of molasses/caramel.
Pear & Mesquite Bake
For the pear bottom:
3 Bartlett or Bosc pears
1 T. butter, preferably from grass-fed cows (Kerrygold is my favorite)
1/4 cup honey
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. brown rice flour
For the mesquite topping:
4 T. (1/2 stick) butter, preferably from grass-fed cows
1/4 cup mesquite flour*
1/4 cup buckwheat flour*
1/4 cup brown rice flour*
1/4 cup + 2 T. rolled oats (be sure to use gluten-free oats if you’re making a gluten-free pear bake!)
2 T. sucanat
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Dash sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 cup date sugar OR maple sugar (Trader Joe’s now stocks the latter)
1 cup whole milk, preferably from grass-fed cows
Preheat oven to 350F and grease an 11×7″ pan with butter. (I like to use the butter wrapper to grease my pans. Waste not, want not!)
Have a medium bowl of cold water ready. Cut pears into thin slices, discarding the stems and seeds and dropping the pear slices into the water as you go to prevent them from browning. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Let pears drain for at least a minute, then add to the skillet. Add honey and lemon and cook for 5 minutes or until the pears are starting to soften but are still fairly crisp. Sprinkle on brown rice flour (or whatever kind you have handy) and stir gently to combine. Remove pears from heat but let them stand in the skillet to thicken while you make the topping.
Place the 4 T. butter in a small pan over the lowest heat setting and let melt. While the butter melts, whisk flours, oats, sucanat, baking powder, salt, spices, and date sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Pour in milk and melted butter and stir with a large wooden spoon to combine.
Carefully slide the pears out of the skillet and into the waiting greased pan, spreading them out if necessary so that they form an even layer in the pan. Top with the topping, gently spreading the topping out to the edges with the back of a spoon. Try not to push down on the pears too much — you don’t want to create an uneven bottom layer.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the topping comes out clean. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to a week, so an hour of fun baking equals a week’s worth of breakfasts! (You’ll get 8 pieces.)
* These are gluten-free flours. If you’d prefer to make a wheat-based version, use equal amounts of spelt, kamut, or whole-wheat flour. The mesquite really does lend a wonderful flavor to baked goods, though, so if you’re an avid baker, you might want to order some mesquite flour from online sources like The Mesquitery. (Or if you live in the Southwest, you might be able to find mesquite flour on the shelves of your local grocer.)
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